Round One: The Practice Run
* To start the process, I purchased a military-style boar bristle brush from Sally's for $2.95. Because the boys' hair is short, I used a "brush-rubbing" technique with their hair. You rub the brush clockwise over a section of hair for 3 minutes, give or take. The hair then naturally coils into twisted tufts, and you can use those to begin the process.
The brush-rubbing worked well for Keenan's hair, which is very soft, fairly fine and thin. Miles has the MOST crazy thick, tight, coily hair, and while the brush rubbing technique worked on his hair, I found dividing it myself worked better.
* For this round, I began by using Aveda Humectant Pomade. Within 3 days, I decided I did not like this product at all. The boys' hair was slipping, and a crust was beginning to develop in the actual locs. So I decided to write it off as a "Practice Round" and go back to the drawing board.
Round 2: The Real Deal
* After a ton of research, I decided to purchase Knotty Boy's Dread Wax and their Dread Shampoo.
I cannot say enough about this product! We LOVE our Knotty Boy Dread Wax. Both boys' hair took to it right away.
* I began their Knotty Locs on December 1.
* Keenan's locs were completed on the 6th. I spent about an hour each night, per boy, on their locs, with the exception of no work on them on the 5th. So Keenan's locs probably took a total of 5-6 hours to finish.
Keenan's hair very naturally worked into a grid pattern, so I kept it going for his entire head. His locs will be thinner than Miles, and while some consider thin locs to be more "feminine," I think it completely fits Keenan's small face and finer features. Also, there's a man in our church with thinner locs and they look great.
* Miles' hair is an entirely different story. His coarse, thick hair is nearly impossible to work a pic or comb through. His locs are thicker, more varied and less uniform (no grid) . They fit his face perfectly. It takes a lot more effort to work the wax through his hair than Keenan's hair. So I found I could only get a fraction of locs formed on Miles' head in the same amount of time for Keenan's head.
As of now, I have maybe 2-3 more hours of work left on his head (maybe 20% left.) With the exception of our time in Cleveland, I have worked on his head nearly every day. By the time he's done, I predict I will have put in 14-16 hours on establishing Miles' locs (whew!).
Up-keep during the first weeks:
This whole initial process is quite an undertaking. I am very happy that we chose to begin this process in winter, when we have more time in the house each evening since it's too dark/cold to play outside.
Now that their locs are in (well, for Keenan, at least), I spend at least 30 minutes each night working on their hair, Keenan one night, Miles the next. I re-wax and twist their hair by "finger rolling" it in a clockwise manner (when the loc is long, it's called "palm rolling," but since our locs are Baby Locs, I only use my thumb, index and middle finger to roll their locs.) When I finish re-waxing and rolling, I then blow dry their locs to help melt the wax and dry out the loc.
The boys wear their "do rags" each and every night and at naptime, if they take one. I have seen it spelled both as "do rag" and "dew rag," but if anyone knows the correct one, I'd love to know!
They are VERY VERY proud of their do rags and walk proud every time we tie them on. Plus they are so stinkin' cute in those things it should be illegal.
To Shampoo or Not to Shampoo? That is the Question:
* When to begin shampooing seemed to be a very common quandry for many people when I began researching locs. I purchased the Knotty Boy Shampoo. They recommend that you try not to wash them for at least 2 weeks, but that if needed, their shampoo could be used at any time.
Yesterday, Keenan was really itching at his head and dandruff was starting to form on the scalp where his hair was parting. Miles' had the same thing going on, plus his un-loc'd hair was totally matted while we were gone on vacation and I needed to wash it to fluff it out and make it workable. So, I decided to trust the K.B. recommendation regarding their shampoo, and I went ahead and washed their heads this morning.
I'm happy to report that their claims are very valid. The flakes are gone, the itchies are extinguished and Miles un-loc'd hair fluffed out beautifully and allowed me to work on it without too much discomfort for Miles (his hair starts to mat on its own within hours of it being washed or picked.)
Their locs held up well: none fell apart, and they still had definite shape and form, so I consider that to be a HUGE success. I did take the time to re-wax and roll all of their locs today. Thank you, Knotty Boy!
Why We Loc:
We did a LOT of research on locs before we decided to jump in and begin this process. Locs are a personal decision. Some look at them as political, some as religious, others as a social statement. But either way, when it boils down to it, it's a personal decision and I leave it at that.
One thing that both boys were adamant of when they came home is that they did NOT want their hair cut. Every time I take out the clippers to tighten up Cliff and Atticus' do's, they freak out and move as far away from us as possible. No Cut! No Cut! they'll say. Miles wanted "big" hair, but it became a nightmare to try and pick out. I felt that, while locs are a huge undertaking at the front end, the less maintenance they require once the locs are established would be a huge bonus for dear Miles.
The boys were very open to and excited about having their hair loc'd. We spent a lot of time showing them different styles on the Knotty Boy albums.
I love the boys' hair. And I want them to love their hair and to be proud of their hair and skin and who they are.
I love the fact that their personal history is wrapped up with their locs. The hair that they grew in Haiti is there with them. The hair that I first touched and brushed is their with them. To us, locs seem to create a wonderful and proud confidence in each of our boys and their uniqueness.
The boys love their hair. They are proud of their locs, and every time I added more, they would run to school and proudly show their teachers and friends. Several times they have been told, "Cool! I want hair like that!"
Loc'ing the boys' hair is a wonderful bonding experience. They curl up in my legs while I work on their hair. I fawn over their beautiful hair and ooh and ahh over how handsome they are. I rub their little shoulders and necks when they get stiff or antsy. We do silly stretches. We laugh at Christmas movies and Mickey Mouse cartoons. While my carpal tunnel may be seriously acting up and my hand might be permanently cramped in a "rolling" position (any suggestions for that?), every minute is worth it.